In Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s
disease, loss of the sense of smell often precedes classical symptoms of
cognitive or motor dysfunction. Therefore, a technique that is able to
non-invasively quantify the olfactory neuron population could provide
important insights related to the diagnosis and progression of
neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases.
Olfactory neurons in the nasal cavity are the primary source of our
sense of smell. Unlike many types of neurons, olfactory neurons are
continuously generated throughout the adult lifespan.
‘Using GV1-57, researchers were able to detect neuron generation during rodent postnatal development as well as neuron degeneration in rodent models of aging and neurodegenerative disease.’
This uniquely high
rate of neuronal birth and death makes olfactory neurons particularly
sensitive to the detrimental effects of progressive neurodevelopmental
and neurodegenerative disease.
In work published
this week in the JCI, a team led by Jacob Hooker at Harvard
Medical School assessed GV1-57, a radiotracer that specifically binds to
mature olfactory sensory neurons, as an approach for quantifying
neuronal populations with PET imaging.
Using GV1-57, they were able to
detect neuron generation during rodent postnatal development as well as
neuron degeneration in rodent models of aging and neurodegenerative
In an additional proof-of-concept experiment, they showed that
GV1-57 maintained saturable binding in non-human primate nasal cavity,
suggesting that this radiotracer may be useful for evaluating
neurological disease in clinical settings.